This Day in History: 1915-03-11

At 07.00 hrs, in thick fog, the 2nd Battalion prepared to renew its attack on the Bois de Biez. However, flanking units of the 8th Division had been checked by German opposition. The Battalion was ordered to stand fast until 8th Division had achieved its objectives. 8th Division were unable to do this and as a result the Battalion had to remain in situ until the early hours of 12th March when it was ordered to retire to Neuve Chapelle for rest and refitting. Two days of fighting had resulted in two British officers wounded, one missing (See note below); 2 Gurkha officers killed, one missing; 17 Other ranks killed, 41 wounded and 27 missing. The gains were not only the capture of Neuve Chapelle but also a successful advance on a front of three kilometers to a depth of 1,000m. Losses had been heavy: the Meerut Division had over 4,000 casualties, German losses were estimated at circa 18,000. It was the first time during the war that the German line had been broken.

Note: the missing British officer was Major Nicolay who was commanding one of the lead companies in the assault on Bois de Biez. Reported as missing it was not until nearly a year and a half later that the Society in Geneva for tracing missing men was able to report that a German unit which had fought in the same area had come across Major Nicolay’s body with his orderly lying near him, badly wounded. The orderly became a prisoner.